Books On Broadway

by Brian

The alexander hamiltonphenomenal success of the musical Hamilton has brought the musical genre to the forefront again. Hamilton’s success, while in many ways due to the incredibly talented composer, actor, rapper and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, can be traced back to the book it is based on, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Books transformed into musicals often lead to great success on Broadway. Read the book, listen to or watch the musical.  See for yourself how books have been inspiration for stories and music heard on Broadway time and time again.


T.S. Elliot’s Old Possums Book of Practical Cats becomes Cats the musical.

Old PossumsCats“The musical ran for nearly 18 years and delivered 7,485 performances. Based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the musical told the story of a group of cats vying to make it to the coveted Heaviside Layer, where they would be given a new life.“Cats” was the longest running show on Broadway until it was surpassed by “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Chicago.”  Jennifer Szulman NYDailyNews


Alice Walker’s Color Purple on Broadway in a revival version featuring Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo in her Broadway debut.

Color purple bookColor Purple

The heart-clutching, gospel-flavored musical that opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on Thursday night — in a production led by an incandescent new star named Cynthia Erivo and, in her Broadway debut, an enchanting Jennifer Hudson — share a title, the same characters, the same source of inspiration (Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel) and most of the same songs with “The Color Purple” seen on Broadway a decade ago. But, oh, what a difference there is between them.  NYTimes


James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific becomes South Pacific the musical

Tales of the south pacificSouth pacific

After its premiere on Broadway on April 7, 1949, starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, South Pacific became an incredible success. The show was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1950, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and nine Tony Awards. It went on to be one of the era’s longest running musicals, second only to Oklahoma! Rodgers, Hammerstein and director Joshua Logan found the source material for South Pacific in James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, a collection of stories about people living in the midst of a war raging far from their home towns.  John Palmer AllMusic


T. H. White’s The Once and Future King becomes Camelot the musical

Once and future

Following the huge success of My Fair Lady, Frederic Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner went to Hollywood in 1958 to work on the movie musical Gigi, and returned to Broadway’s Majestic Theatre two years later, on December 5, 1960, with Camelot, a treatment of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, about the love story between King Arthur, Guinevere, and the King’s favorite among his Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot. While the new musical never soared to the heights attained by their previous stage hit, it played a total of 873 performances, largely on the star power and popularity of Richard Burton as Arthur, Julie Andrews as Guinevere, and a new matinee idol, Robert Goulet, as Lancelot. Masterworks Broadway: First LP release: December 12, 1960


Of course any time we start a comparison with a book the inevitable question comes up, which was better, the book or the….in this case the musical? Tell us what combination of book to musical you’ve read and watched or listened to. Give us your recommendations.

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One response to “Books On Broadway”

  1. Lindsey Anderson says:

    I know many people who prefer the Wicked musical to the book (often because they read the book after seeing the musical), but I like them both equally and for different reasons. The book takes a more serious tone and the stakes seem higher, but the musical is undeniably powerful and fun.

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